Archive for August, 2010

Landlease (mfd. home) Community Owner/operator?

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Landlease (nee manufactured home) Community Owner/operator?

Consider yourself ‘toasted’, in more ways than one….

I.

Monday evening, 23 August, at the famous Rosewood Restaurant in Rosemont, IL., two dozen Chicago area landlease community (‘LLCommunity’) owners/operators gathered to socialize. Think Ed Zeman, Barbara Davis (Jennings Realty), Chuck Fanaro, Rick Camboni, Dennis Ohnstad, Eric Hagen, Ed Biskind, Brad & Matt Shechtman, John Zajicek, Greg O’Berry, Ken Hauck, Ben Kadish, John Rogosich, and nearly a dozen others intimately involved in this unique real estate asset class.

A highlight of the evening was the proposal and sharing of a formal toast to the memory and legacy of the late Bud Zeman, fellow LLCommunity owner, Chciago businessman, and friend to most of the folk gathered that evening. “To Bud Zeman!”

Shortly thereafter, a first – ever formal toast was proposed and shared, re: ‘The Community Owner!’ To the best of this industry observer’s recollection, this is the first time such a tribute has been offered publicly. It went like this:

Till that final home site if filled,
And every last bill completely paid

With mortgage refinancing approved
And confident our dollars are not delayed

We’ll continue to ply the trailer trade
With affordable homes factory made

Knowing so well, how lesser men are oft afraid
Of this business path & how they might be portrayed

So to you, my friends and fellow free holders,
I offer this toast to our humble but oh so worthy trade!

The September issue of the Allen Letter professional journal will contain a lagniappe (‘freebie’) 3X5 professionally printed Toast Card containing this historic toast. To subscribe, phone (317) 346-7156 for 12 monthly issues @ $134.95/year subscription.

Postscript. If you bridle at the use of the word ‘trailer’ in the toast above, feel free to substitute the word ‘housing’. Penned it as I did, to pay tribute to our industry’s genesis, well realizing our future is certainly with the latter. GFA

II.

Last week’s #100 blog, at this website, titled UNBRIDLED OPTIMISM & BOLD INITIATIVES, garnered dozens of reader responses (100% positive & encouraging!), far more than any of the previous 100 postings! For example: “I hope you continue this after you retire, as it’s good to have the most up to date info coming at us in this format. Looking forward to all the news you can tell. Thanks for all you do for our industry.” DR.

With that type of encouragement, I’m emboldened to borrow material from blog # 100, and mate it with insights garnered during Precision Capital Funding’s two day Chattel Finance Workshop in Chicago last week. Now, this is pretty heady stuff, so read carefully – reflect thoroughly – react appropriately…

GIVEN 1) The MHIndustry realized, 2 June 2010, during the Manufactured Housing Finance Roundtable, in Elkhart, IN., it would be ‘On its’ own’, from that point forward, and for the foreseeable future, where chattel (personal property) finance is concerned. AND, 2) Now, the LLCommunity asset class senses near abandonment, where third party chattel lending sources are concerned; SO, 3) Property Owner Finance (nee. self – finance), via ‘captive finance’ & or ‘buy here – pay here’ methodology, might not only continue as near term salvation for portfolio owners/operators across the U.S., BUT 4) Possibly ensures the very preservation and continuation of the MHIndustry at large! Think about that progression and conclusion. Do you agree or disagree?

How’s this deliverance unfolding? In fairly simple fashion. First, we’ve already seen Property Owner Financing of new & resale homes, on – site in LLCommunities, balloon in volume during the past decade, from maybe a few million dollars in ‘paper’ held by LLCommunity portfolio owners/operators a decade ago, to more than $3 ½ billion by year end 2009; and some now estimate that total to be $5+ billion dollars and growing! As more and more conscientious LLCommunity owners/operators take steps to bring existing chattel loan portfolios into compliance with state and federal laws and regulations; and better prepare themselves, through training and licensure, to effectively originate and underwrite new chattel home loans going forward (either in – house, with assistance of a financial services firm, or setting up separate LLCs to do so…), it’ll only be a matter of time before they provide (if not doing so already) said financing for FSBO (For Sale By Owner) deals occurring within their LLCommunities; and, when the time is right, sell off their ‘book’ of compliant loans (to existing, and new firms being formed to do this), realizing new capital for originating more home loans!

Want to actively participate in a national, public forum, to learn more about what was just described, and make your views, modus operandi, and ideas known? Attend the 19th International Networking Roundtable in Phoenix, AZ. @ 15 – 17 September 2010! ManageAmerica/Origen (816) 246-5053, will keynote: ‘Getting Chattel $ to Return!’ And Precision Capital Funding will be holding forth on ‘captive finance’ per se. For information on PCF’s next two day workshop on this subject, phone (217) 971-3968. Furthermore, it’ll be telling, to see how many of the ‘Big Four + One’ third party chattel finance lenders are present, expressing interest in LLCommunity business. To register for the Roundtable, do so via this website or phone (317) 346-7156. Mention this blog posting and pay a lesser registration fee! A final word on this $$$ subject: Only a few copies of the Manufactured Housing Finance Primer remain. Three dozen copies were purchased this past week! Order yours; phone (317) 346-7156. Only $29.95 postpaid!

III.

‘MHI’s Three Point Plan to Move the Manufactured Housing Industry Forward’ was the headline to the Manufactured Housing Institute’s Quick Links newsletter dated 14 May 2010. And shortly thereafter it was a major topic in Blog # 87, titled: ‘MHI’s Three Point Plan; CONSPIRACY vs. Suicide, & Overlooked Opportunities!’

So, what were these three points? In MHI’s words: “improving financing for our customers; advocating for the implementation of updates to the manufactured housing building code (Think Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, a.k.a. MHIA @ 2000. GFA), ‘keeping our homes competitive’ (this phrase added since May. GFA); and, protecting preemption of the federal building code.”

When I requested a three month update from MHI, I was reminded by Thayer Long, that members, at their June meeting in Washington, DC., “lobbied representatives on the GSE’s failure to properly implement their ‘duty to serve’ the manufactured housing industry” in accords with the Housing Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (‘HERA’).

Furthermore, Members of Congress were alerted that 60% of manufactured home owners rely on personal property (chattel) lending, and during the past two decades, MH has represented 21% of the national housing market. But now the FHFA’s (‘Federal Housing Finance Agency’) proposed rule stymies such financing for manufactured housing, and Congress assistance is needed to direct that agency to modify their proposed rule, and require GSE’s (‘Government Sponsored Enterprises’) to develop personal property lending products as part of their duty to serve the MHIndustry.

MHI members also lobbied on S.A.F.E. Act (‘Safe And Fair Enforcement of Mortgage Licensing) reform; specifically to exempt manufactured housing retail activities from the S.A.F.E. Act. For more information on these topics, visit manufacturedhousing.org

IV.

What do you call them? A recent communiqué from CNBC begins: “They’ve been called McMansions, Starter Castles, Garage Mahals, and Faux Chateaus but here’s the latest thing you can call them – history.” The story goes on to describe the apparent demise of “…garishly large homes, which are generally over 3,000 square feet and built very close together.” According to Wikipedia “They’re tacky, they lack a definitive style and they have a ‘displeasingly jumbled appearance.’” While I don’t anticipate a race by disaffected McMansion homebuyers to factory – built housing, motivated by national economic malaise, such retrenching could, in time (After many of the 4,000,000 ‘repo’ site – built homes are resold), be a harbinger for increased sales volume for HUD Code homes! Did I say ‘sales’? It’d be nice, timely and fitting, when this renascence occurs, to finally cease talking ‘shipments’, and get in accords with the rest of the housing market, and start talking ‘sales’.

Speaking of terminology. Has anyone else noticed? One of our national advocacy bodies long referred to non – manufacturing segments of the HUD Code manufactured housing industry as being ‘aftermarket’. That term long grated my sensitivity (Think of the synonyms) but few, or so I thought, listened to my aversion for the label. But earlier this year, 2010, I started hearing those same segments now referred to as being ‘post production’. Now, I can handle that. Makes me wonder though, how OEM (original equipment manufacturers), and other suppliers of housing components, feel out there in limbo land, being neither HUD Code home manufacturers or post production. Hmm. But then, we’ve learned to live with two identical acronyms during the past several years: Think MHCC. You know; short for Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (relative to MHIA@ 2000); but as well, Urban Land Institute’s Manufactured Housing Communities Council. And then there’s MHARR. For sure, the letters stand for Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, but the suggestion is out there, to improve our industry’s image with a comprehensive Manufactured Housing And Resident Relations (a.k.a. customer service) program! Plus, how many renderings of the letters, among state MHAssociations, are there for IMHA?

IV.

Denigrate. Know the definition of the word? Goes like this: “blacken in reputation; defame” (from New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, p.187).
On – site LLCommunity managers and fee property management firms were, in my opinion, denigrated in a column this month, published in a trade publication that’ll remain unnamed here. I decline to direct any fresh traffic their way. If you read this tripe, and disagreed with the writer – but haven’t contacted the editor/publisher to express your views, inaction only serves to encourage future defaming of property managers and firms. I’ve written, as have LLCommunity owners from California to (I’m told) Florida…

V.

Well, that does it for this week. Kids are back in school; the selling season begins for homes in Sunbelt regions; and, we have a very heavy business meeting schedule ahead of us. International Networking Roundtable (‘INR’) in Phoenix, AZ. @ 15 – 17 September; Manufactured Housing Institute’s (‘MHI’) annual meeting is in Denver, CO. @ 26 – 28 September – with National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division convening 27 September; Urban Land Institute (‘ULI’) members travel to Washington, DC. @ 12 – 15 October – with Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) convening 13 October; and the Manufactured Housing Mid – Atlantic (5) States Convention takes place this year, in Albany, NY @ 26 & 27 October. Be sure also, to mark your calendar to attend the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show (formerly the Midwest manufactured Housing Show), in Louisville, KY. @ 13 – 15 January 2011. For more information on this latter venue, contact Dennis Hill via (770) 587-3350.

*****
George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024
Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

UNBRIDLED OPTIMISM & BOLD INITIATIVES

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

UNBRIDLED OPTIMISM & BOLD INITIATIVES

from Chicago to Phoenix, & Austin to Louisville (‘Lou-avul’), & beyond…

Is it just me, or do you too feel ‘a – shakin & a – stretchin’ occurring among survivors of the grim, decade – old, Manufactured Housing Reality Show? Must be careful here, not to overplay what I’ve been sensing of late; however, with each passing day, it’s become increasingly obvious: Some things downright Positive, and Some things out – and – out Bold, are a – happening!

I.

Let’s begin with the small cum large, non – host, no – agenda, networking dinner party for Chicago’s landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners, Monday evening, August 23rd. When first phone calls were made a week earlier, the optimistic goal was to see a dozen of the 25 known Chicagoland portfolio ‘players’ gather at the popular Rosewood Restaurant in Rosemont, IL. Well, as this blog is posted Sunday afternoon, August 22nd, 24 name tags and a private dining room at the Rosewood await the largest social gathering of LLCommunity owners/operators in the city’s history! Why the Unbridled Optimism? Revisit this website and blog next week to learn the answer…

II.

Then there’re the Unbridled Optimistic commentaries that roll in each week, following this blog’s posting. Here’re just two recent penned communiqués:

“I still believe manufactured housing is the best, and maybe the only hope, for safe affordable housing for a large portion of U.S. citizens!” JA

“We are on the edge of the greatest boom the manufactured housing world has ever seen. And this isn’t hype. It’s the logical reality of why the Buffett folk keep buying up manufactured housing producers and suppliers! They are doing the same tea leaf reading as any sage of the biz can come to.” TK

Know what? There’s a lot more going on ‘optimistically’ than most folk realize. That’s why YOU need to be reading the Allen Letter professional journal every month! Phone (317) 346-7156 to subscribe @ $134.95/year (12 issues) – and get to know columnist M.H. Ronin; that’s code for Manufactured Housing’s ‘covert operations (editorial) specialist with no governmental ties’! Seriously. And guess who he/she is?

III.

Excuse me here, if I have difficulty restraining genuine excitement for the landlease community asset class (a.k.a. In some circles, the ‘post production segment of manufactured housing’, nee the ‘aftermarket’), and what happens 15 – 17 September, at the 19th annual International Networking Roundtable in Phoenix, AZ.

Just corresponded with Randy Rowe, upon his return from Australia. He’s ‘primed to share’, with 200+/- LLCommunity owners/operators expected to attend and hear: ‘What we must collectively do, to regain our legitimate share of the U.S. housing market!’ How can YOU not be present to hear that timely, bellwether address?!

And then there’s how Murphy’s Law (i.e. ‘Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong!’) has been turned on its head at this event. We planned to feature the first public pairing of MHI & MHARR execs ‘telling their respective advocacy stories’. Well that’s not gonna happen. Why? Ask me privately. BUT, in its’ place? Something bigger and much better! But you have to be present to ‘experience’ it. Frankly; I can hardly wait!

And ‘how ‘bout this?’ Did you know there’s already a ‘plan & practice’ in place, to restore third party chattel financing to manufactured housing in general, and LLCommunities in particular? No? Well, that’s getting its’ first public airing as well!

PLUS, all the other nifty topics, best presenters, superb networking, and important deal – making characteristic of this venue! Mention this blog posting when you register (if you haven’t already), and we’ll honor the ‘before 8/15’ registration fee of $395.00, saving you $55.00 off the present $450.00 registration fee. Register via this website or phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 today!

By the way, the third meeting of the MHTrade Press CONSORTIUM will occur at this year’s Roundtable in Phoenix. Anyone who’s anyone in the print and online press will be present!

IV.

TA – TA! Remember the ‘teaser’ of a week or two ago in this blog, about Good News and how ‘The South might rise again’? Well, here’s Good News about one Bold Initiative: the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show (formerly, Midwest Manufactured Housing Show), following a year’s (2010) hiatus, returns to the Kentucky State Fair Grounds @ 13 – 15 January 2011. Yep; got that, as they say, straight from the horse’s (i.e. Dennis’) mouth. Are you excited to hear that Good News? You should be! As a colleague said yesterday, “Geesh, I didn’t realize how much I was going to miss the mid – January trip to Louisville until the show got canceled!” A dozen (+) manufacturers have committed to participate and nearly half the supplier booths are reserved. For more information, and or to reserve ‘your supplier booth’, contact Dennis Hill via (770) 587-3350. Tell him ‘George sent me!’

V.

Hey; also remember this blog telling you (a little) about the ‘Arkansas initiative’, to (in my words) pressure our national MHAdvocacy bodies to effect more and better results for the MHIndustry, inside the Washington beltway? Well, have been watching this matter unfold from a distance, and recently learned it’s morphed into the ‘Texas initiative’. Following a recent circulation of ‘requests for proposals’ and conference call; two consultancy proposals have been received, and will be decided upon. Appears the Texas Manufactured Housing Association will be funding this Bold Initiative, in part; and, providing leadership for same, via its’ board of directors and executive director. To become involved in this effort, or simply to learn more, phone (512) 459-1221 # 940.

VI.

OK, continuing this week’s blog theme describing Unbridled Optimism popping up all around the U.S., here’s a novel if not somewhat shocking thought. The rock band, The Grateful Dead, just might have the answer(s) to MHIndustry’s decade long malaise! How so? Go to your local Borders or Barnes & Noble bookstore and take a gander at David Meerman Scott’s Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. ‘What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History.’ I’m serious! A few of the chapter titles should titillate your curiosity:

Create a Unique Business Model
Choose a Memorable Brand Name(s)
Build a Diverse Team
Be Yourself
Cut Out the Middleman
Free Your Content
Partner with Entrepreneurs
Give Back
Do What You Love (to do)

Who’d a thunk? There’re some pithy ideas contained therein. Just don’t lose sight or hold of business common sense, tempered by your abilities and skills, personal and corporate experience; and most important of all, your level and focus of attitude and motivation!

VII.

In case you haven’t noticed – and why should you? This is the 100th blog for me; originally posted at Manufactured Housing Merchandiser’s website, now a fixture at community-investor.com

When planning this landmark 100th blog, I considered reaching back and sharing our some MHIndustry & LLCommunity timeline and media history. But as interesting as it might have been for some, it’d likely be boring and uninteresting for the majority. So…

Suffice it to say, when I started penning this blog two years ago, the last thing I needed was another recurring (weekly) writing assignment. But know what? It’s become a pleasure ‘staying alert’ to newsy notes, then articulating (hopefully) informed opinions, to share with friends and colleagues. The most gratifying part of the blogging experience has been the regular, and generally very positive feedback, from readers. For that matter, including material contained herein, much about which I write comes directly from you who do phone, email, and otherwise communicate musings ideas, and opinions to me. So, please don’t stop. And here’s why…

‘In real time, our MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class, for the first time in its’ collective 60 year history, has ongoing, very public, honest – to – goodness, give – and – take, interpersonal and corporate intercommunication!’ We must preserve and protect this means that brings us together, by participating in and supporting the opportunity.

If you haven’t already seen, or have, a copy of the ‘Official Manufactured Housing Resource for Print & On – line Media, plus Social Networking Sites’ (One of 12 Signature Documents), request a ‘free’ copy when you register for the above – referenced Networking Roundtable, or subscribe to the Allen Letter professional journal.

VIII.

Finally, a word about the future. Not making a grandiose announcement here, just encouraging you to ‘stay tuned’ in the near and intermediate future. Carolyn and I’ve built a significant manufactured housing and landlease community business consulting, publishing, and training platform during the past 30 years. We’ve begun making preliminary plans to, hopefully, ensure its’ continuation beyond our tenure. All I’ll say at this point, is my (our) desire, mission, goal – for the two dozen work products (e.g. profit centers, like the ALLEN REPORT, Networking Roundtable, two newsletters, book publishing, MHM classes, and this blog, to name a few) comprising GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, is to see the entity continue in toto, if possible. Maybe as a for – profit business enterprise like it is today; or, perhaps institutionalized (e.g. as part of a not for profit trade or advocacy group), given the right and timely venue, and favorable circumstances. As usual, your thoughts on this subject are welcome….

*****

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024 Indianapolis, IN. 46247 (317) 346-7156

Fight, Flight or Freeze?

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Fight, Flight or Freeze?

+ more on, ‘better to lease than be S.A.F.E.d’; MHImage & YOU; Tony’s Musings; CHURN; &, ‘Four 7 Year Cycles for Your Landlease Community!

I.

My late foundryman Dad was wont to say, “Learn something new every day!” Well, today is one of those days. Heretofore, when teaching Manufactured Housing Manager (‘MHM’) certification candidates the finer points of Developing Good Resident Relations, in general; and, ‘conflict resolution’ in particular, I’d advise: “When having to be involved, get feuding parties seated, eliminating the fight and flight alternatives.” Well, recently read where those two ‘Fs’ are parts of a triad known as the ‘fight-flight-freeze response’ to perceived threats. I guess knowing two out of three wasn’t all that bad. Anyway, our personal – and perhaps by extension, the manufactured housing industry’s response, during the past decade, to its’ perceived threat of annihilation, has been what? Fight it off, run from it, or freeze until deciding the nature of the threat?

Perhaps all three! How so? At the turn of the century, MHIndustry’s perceived threat had to do with loss of national housing market share to the site – built housing folk. At which time, one can make a pretty good case that HUD Code housing manufacturers, for awhile, successfully ‘fought the competition’ by aggressively entering the land/home (package) market, via local housing market MHRetailers, selling and siting our unique, affordable, very homelike housing product. Remember the huge multisection homes (We called them ‘doublewides’ in the 1970s & 80s.) and 80’ long singlesection homes of the time?

But then, self – interest in keeping manufactured housing’s ‘372,843 unit shipments per year’ production lines humming, motivated collaboration with third party sources of chattel (personal property) lending, and owners/operators of newly developed/expanded landlease (nee manufactured home) communities, to offer ‘no money down’ deals, adjustable rate and ‘teaser rate’ mortgages, as well as reduced or ‘free site rent’, soon turning our customers upside down financially. At that point the ‘fight’ went out of our game, and the housing finance segment of our industry took ‘flight’ – yet to return, ten years later! WE became the perceived threat (i.e. Our own worst enemy!); soon prompting the tongue in cheek motto, ‘Be a stud! Sell a HUD!’

By the time year 2008 rolled around, another housing bubble (site – built) burst. And since third party chattel finance hadn’t returned to the HUD Code housing industry, the manufacturing segment ‘froze in place’, due to lack of these options (i.e. Few land/home opportunities & minimal chattel loans for homes in LLCommunities), forced to await eventual amelioration of these perceived ‘lack of financing’ threats. And frankly, that’s where we continue to be today, ‘frozen in place’; but with one notable exception: (property) owner financing of new and resale homes on – site in landlease communities (‘LLCommunities’). This contemporary reality has been the subject of several recent blog postings at this website; so, if you want to learn more, scroll back through the archived blogs to detail the word picture just painted. You’ll learn enough to fill several days with fresh knowledge….

II.

Last week’s blog posting, also Part II, introduced the MHIndustry and LLCommunity’s new bromide: “Better to lease than be S.A.F.E.d!” This new truism was reinforced in Ken Rishel’s latest Chattel Finance Newsletter, when he answered a query about implementing ‘rent to buy’ and ‘lease to own’ programs, to avoid regulatory issues of the S.A.F.E. Act. Ken writes: “…these are still credit transactions and…subject to the S.A.F.E. Act.” (+) “There could even be criminal charges brought under the RICO statutes, given the theory (a business enterprise) is engaging in an ongoing conspiracy to evade the law.” P.2. (lightly edited. GFA) Reach Rishel via (217) 971-3968.

For some, looks like now might be time to, pull out those dusty old rental homesite leases of the late 1970s and early 80s, update them, and use to fill vacant LLCommunity sites with leased homes!

III.

I call this, ‘a LLCommunity owner’s lament’. It was sent to this blogger in response to an earlier posting at this website, regarding ‘everyone’s role’ in working to improve the pubic image of our affordable housing product and community lifestyle.

“I’ve spent lots of money over the years upgrading my properties, only to wind up selling them to buyers who let them quickly fall into disrepair. I worked diligently to improve the image of these properties in their local housing markets. Appears the majority of my efforts and investment have been for nothing! When others (i.e. new LLCommunity owners/operators) don’t follow the good precedent set for them, it’s not only discouraging, but soon contributes to our ongoing public image challenge. Just needed to vent!”

How many others feel the same way? Maybe too many times we boast about ‘taking over troubled properties’, turning them around, effecting improved curb appeal and enhanced profitability, without realizing there’s a too frequent down side to some realty transactions. What to do? It’s pretty obvious. Whether a present day owner/operator, or a new, would – be investor in the asset class, each of us has a day – by – day responsibility to ‘do our part’ to enhance the public image of HUD Code manufactured housing and LLCommunities! Are you doing your important part?

IV.

Call this retro (i.e. back; backward; behind) manufactured housing! It’s not going to recur, but interesting nonetheless, for a blog responder to recall, in “…1970, my first full year in this business, there were no national floor plan lenders, and personal (chattel) financing was at high rates, for a seven year term. Home manufacturers collected a 10% down payment when home was ordered, then freight charges and a trust agreement given to the ‘toter’ (a.k.a. transporter) upon delivery of the new home, to be taken to the bank to collect a check. Back then, the only place to put ‘dem mobile homes’ was in ‘dem parks’, of course. And by 1972 we were shipping 500,000 homes. No HUD, some state regs, and MHMI tags. Even then, those (dealers) committed to serving the customer with a quality product and great service, won big time. What are we missing? There’s no single reason for us to fail, except us. Hmm.” N

V.

Even Tony Kovach, publisher of ezine Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management got into the act this past week, with some pretty salient observations as to what’s ‘going on’ and ‘not going on’, relative to manufactured housing, on the national scene. Here’re his four points: 1) Obama staff points out past administration favored home ownership, this one promotes rental housing; 2) FHFA/GSE’s have been, and continue to work mightily, Not to Lend to effect housing purchases; 3) FHA Title I’s new stringent financial guarantee guidelines, for lenders, keeps many lenders away; and, 4) now appears to be ‘safer & easier’ to lease homes in LLCommunities than having to comply with the sifting sands of the S.A.F.E. Act, when selling and financing. Appears our federal government has switched 180 degrees away from home ownership, to strong emphasis on leasehold interests. (847) 730-3692

VI.

Last week’s blog hinted this week, I’d explore the sensitive subject: ‘To Churn or to Nurture’? Specifically; when owning/operating a LLCommunity, and or selling new and resale homes on – site, deciding whether to ‘make easy money’ or ‘build lasting value’. Well guess what? Didn’t get far into that heady dual topic before realizing how many toes I’d likely be walking on, when citing even a few examples of churn. Still want to explore the subject, just need more time to research, marshal my experiences, and consider my thoughts on the subject. For now, suffice it to know, ‘churning & nurturing’ have been around as long as there’ve been rental properties. The matter received quasi official MHIndustry attention at the first National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus in Tampa, FL., on 27 February 2008, when identified as one of Five Action Areas (Still in play!), by 100+/- LLCommunity folk gathered from throughout the U.S., to wit:

“Value proposition. Ensure a fair interplay of housing product pricing, financing, and value, with site rentals and more….”

Churn? I’ll leave you with a defining thought or two about the word and concept. Even a classic Webster’s dictionary’s ‘take’ on the word provides a viable starting point: “To engage in excessive trading (of stocks, etc.) to increase commissions”. Hmm. How’s that translate to the field of realty in general, home sales in particular? “To facilitate excessive turnover of contract sale homes, to increase (number of) down payments, commissions, and other fees.” Churn was relatively common practice in the late 1970s, as owners/operators segued from ‘rental units’ to ‘contract sale’ transactions, often when readying their property(ies) for sale (marketing). Hopefully this is far less a reality today, as enlightened owners/operators realize ‘building value’ (i.e. stable, rent – paying clientele, a.k.a. residents) is easier, more cost effective, and more worthwhile in the long run, than churning ‘easy money’ in the short term. But that’s as far as I’m comfortable taking that subject this week.

VII.

Many readers of this weekly blog posting are also paid subscribers to the Allen Letter professional journal. Know the September 2010 issue features an expanded work originally penned by Richard ‘Dick’ Bessire of California – domiciled, Bessire & Casenhiser (One of this nation’s, and our industry’s largest, oldest, and most respected fee property management firms!). The piece features four Seven Year Cycles, apropos to professional property (i.e. realty) management, but applied specifically to the landlease community real estate asset class! My guess is, many owners/operators will clip, mount and retain this ’28 year cyclic business (operations) plan’ for reference, time and again, during the years ahead. Don’t miss this unique learning experience opportunity! To subscribe, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE cited at the end of the following paragraph.

VIII.

End Note. To those blog readers accessing this week’s posting via a blast email message, know there’s a 19th International Networking Roundtable brochure attached to the conveying email message. If you haven’t registered to attend yet, don’t delay. We’re already more than halfway to our max number of attendees. Remember; this is the sole national 2 ½ day gathering designed specifically for the advanced educational, interpersonal networking, and realty deal – making needs of all LLCommunity owners/operators in North America! Questions? Call the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

******

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024 Indianapolis, IN. 46247 (317) 346-7156
(317) 346-7156

Salmagundi of Manufactured Housing News & Views

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

A Salmagundi of MHIndustry News & Views….*1

I.

Just learned Automated Builder magazine, after switching from print to online format (i.e. ezine) recently, now “will take a furlough”, replaced by a monthly online AB newsletter, at an annual subscription rate of $50.00. Phone (805) 642-9735. Many of us ‘in the MHBusiness’, cut our industry baby teeth reading AB publisher Don Carlson’s informative and often comment – provoking editorials. Tragically, this is the second online ezine to cease publication (Think The Grissim Report) since the June debut of factory – built housing’s Official Resource for Print & On – line Media directory. As related side; what’s John Grissim up to these days? Read the September issue of the Allen Letter professional journal to find out. Hint: ‘It’s a mystery!’

Know what this means? Here’s what remains of manufactured housing media: ONE advertiser – supported print magazine, the Journal; TWO subscriber – supported print newsletters: the Allen Letter professional journal & the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! (Phone 317/346-7156); and, TWO online monthly ezines, Chattel Finance Newsletter (free) via captivefinance.net & Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management (free) via MHMSM.com. Then there’re Manufactured Housing Institute’s (‘MHI’) Community Connections online newsletter, published quarterly for National Communities Council (‘NCC’) members (Phone 703/558-0678); and, Dick Moore’s (Think MHRetailer par excellence) INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES (free) online newsletter, which appears when he gets the itch to share his extensive knowledge, and express strong opinions, on various manufactured housing issues. And that folks, is all that remains!

II.

“Better to lease than to be S.A.F.E.d!” is a new landlease community bromide making the rounds these days.*2 The point seems to be, there’re less regulatory hurdles to clear ‘leasing a manufactured home on – site in a LLCommunity’, than when engaging in property owner financing of new and resale homes, via either ‘captive finance’ or ‘buy here – pay here’ chattel loan underwriting and servicing procedures. What do you think? For more information on this timely and critical topic, read Manufactured Housing $$$ Primer, available for $29.95 postpaid, by via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633.4764. Also FYI! A Captive Finance Workshop is scheduled for 24 & 25 August in Chicago, IL. Phone (217) 971-3968.

III.

At the annual Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, hosted by the RV/MH Heritage Foundation, at its’ marvelous museum and library facility, in Elkhart, IN., on 2 August, we learned of the passing of Professor Carl Edwards, one of our industry’s few remaining genuine pioneers. Carl was a good friend to many, and has long been regarded and respected as manufactured housing’s de facto historian! His last book, Homes for Travel and Living was published in 1977, and a copy sits on a shelf in my office library. What I remember most about Carl, however, is a series of his reprints, dating back to 1970 – 74, titled: ‘Different Dwelling Costs – Mobile Homes as Housing’s Best Buy’. These served as the basis for some of my earliest trade magazine writing in the mid 1980s.

Speaking of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Museum and Library facility, I encourage you to financially support this guardian of our collective RV/MH business legacy; better yet, visit the large the new facility, located right along the I-80/90 Toll Road on the East side of Elkhart, IN. Phone (574) 293-2344 for more information. Carolyn and I’ve donated annually, for more than a decade; won’t you join us? And consider hosting your firm’s next industry – related training or social event in one of the facility’s large, attractive display halls or meeting rooms! You’ll be glad you did!

IV.

Let’s revisit the final two paragraphs of last week’s blog posting. Why? Both generated thoughtful remarks you need to read! Remember, these provocative paragraphs were penned by one of the few true, decades – seasoned sages remaining active in the MHIndustry:

• “Relative to the long – awaited Title I program. As you probably know, the final regs are out; and, while GNMA has lifted its’ moratorium, it’s also established (stringent financial guarantee) guidelines that effectively eliminate all but two (Really one, when you consider who owns the two firms) chattel lenders from participating in the program, virtually ending competition among said lenders!” Hmm. First we lost many lenders; then most MHRetailers; next our housing manufacturers; and now, possibly 50 percent of the remaining lenders?

One of several responses. “I share the same concerns, from the portion of the blog that relates to Title I and GNMA requirements. Between these requirements, FINREG and the S.A.F.E. Act, the only people who’ll be left, are the exact ones the government is afraid of, the TBTF (‘Too Big to Fail!) folk. They’ll be the only ones able to absorb the costs that continue to appear, as we try to conduct compliant chattel loan programs. For example, see Friday announcements of bank closings. Never is a TBTF bank listed, just your small community banks caught up in all the new regulation requirements forced upon them. So, if the TBTF folk are not loaning money, and the small community banks don’t, who are we left with?” PB (lightly edited)

• “And George, except for selling to Seniors, home financing is the key to success in our industry! As long as we market home products and LLCommunities to low and moderate income buyers, who’re mostly credit – challenged, we’re going to have difficulty obtaining viable home financing programs anywhere. Answer? While there’s no simple solution, greatly and widely ‘improving our image’ with the general public, will help to move us up the credit score chain to more credit worthy buyers, and access new financing options for home sales.” Hmm. This gets kinda personal. So, what will YOU do, even ME, to address this image issue?

Here’s how some of you replied to the second paragraph. Again, comments lightly edited.

“I agree we need image enhancement. We hear about different efforts being started, but then seems to dissipate, and we never get the REAL reason for its’ demise. Do you know, or can you get to the bottom of ‘why’ these plans never come to fruition? Strictly money? Who’s going to pay? Who is in control? At the (17th) Networking Roundtable in Mystic, CT., the (home) purchasers agreed to add a lot of money to each house (sold) to fund a program. (One manufacturer) seemed to be enthusiastically in favor of it. Does (another manufacturer) not see this as favorable to them, or do they want to do it on their own, for their own brand only?” JD

“Your (sage’s) last paragraph poignantly hammers the smart MH guys and gals. We are not promoting ourselves! While we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars playing chess (lobbying) with the bureaucrats in state houses and DC, we ignore our customers. Even if we had chattel (finance matters) handled, would customers be visiting our sales centers/dealerships? We must require our (trade) associations to get busy promoting, advertising, and showing our (housing) products to the masses! Who needs financing when we have no customers of substance? The author of that paragraph needs a hug ‘attaboy’ – or ‘girl’, for seeing ‘where some of our cheese is hiding’ – right behind our own lack of promotion!” NP

Point? These and additional, similar responses, arrive from the grassroots of this industry, throughout the U.S. There’re messages here to be heeded. Who’s listening?

V.

Next week will mark the posting of my 100th blog, if I’ve got the count right; might be #99. Anyway, as some of you know, this blog series’ began on Manufactured Home Merchandiser’s website more than a year ago, before the print trade magazine ceased publication; then it segued to the community-investor.com website. I want this to be a special posting, and have already started working on it. A possible title and topic might be: To Churn or To Nurture? Deciding to ‘make easy money’ or ‘build lasting value’, when owning/operating one or more landlease communities! What do you think? A much needed discussion? Or; too heady, controversial, and simply a ‘none of your darn business’ topic? But hey; if you’ve got a better topic idea, let me know ASAP via this website, email: gfa7156@aol.com, or either of the aforementioned telephone numbers.

VI.

In little more than a month, 200+/- of the most active LLCommunity owners/operators in North America will gather, from 15 – 17 September 2010, at the beautiful Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort Hotel in Phoenix, AZ., for 2 ½ days of the Best Education (nearly two dozen or so seminar & panel offerings), Interpersonal Networking (at nearly a dozen social events and meals), and superb Deal – making venue (Beginning with Marcus & Millichap’s State of the Asset Class presentation of dozens of LLCommunities ‘for sale’ – and much more) available anytime, anywhere in the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class! CAVCO and Champion Homes plan to have Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) on display, adjacent to the International Networking Roundtable’s meeting rooms. Come and meet HUD Code home manufacturers’ Business Development Managers (‘BDM’) who know how to ‘talk LLCommunity’, when it comes to new home sales! Keynote presenter this year? Randy Rowe, of Green Courte Partners & American Land Lease renown returns! Don’t miss ‘his take’ on ‘what’s going on’ throughout the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class these days! (317) 346-7156.

One hiccup to this year’s INR schedule. Had hoped to provide a side – by – side opportunity for our two national advocacy bodies to tell their respective stories during a panel session. This isn’t going to happen. BUT, have already arranged for an equally informative and equally stimulating panel session relative to….

VII.

By now, ‘you know me’; more accurately, ‘my writing style’, from previous blog postings. I oft leave the best news till last, at the very end of the weekly blog. While not quite true this time around, I do indeed leave a titillating teaser tidbit with you! In either the August 22nd or 29th blog posting, at this website, Watch for a very Special & Timely Announcement, of a Most POSITIVE Nature! Hint. ‘The South may indeed rise again!’

In the meantime; will I see you in Chicago on the 23rd, 24th & 25th of August? How ‘bout in Phoenix, AZ on the 15th, 16th & 17th of September? Sure hope so! Those two venues are followed by MHI’s annual meeting in Denver, CO., on the 27th & 28th of September; and , the Urban Land Institute’s (‘ULI’) Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) – not HUD’s MHCC (Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee), on the 12th thru 15th of October in Washington, DC. Whew! How does one keep abreast of these workshops, roundtables, annual meetings, and council (a.k.a. ‘Think Tank’) gatherings? When YOU can’t attend, know the event descriptions and proceedings are almost always reported in the pages of the Allen Letter professional journal! One more reason many of your peers, if not yet you, subscribe! (317) 346-7156.

End Notes:
1. Salmagundi. A hash or stew; any mixture.
2. Safe And Fair Enforcement of Mortgage Licensing Act

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®, Emeritus, MHM. Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247

LLCommunities…cum Lendlease Communities

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

LLComunities (nee MHCommunities) cum Lendlease Communities! Huh?

I.

Translation please! First the long version. Back in the 1950s they were ‘trailer camps; morphed to ‘mobile home parks’ in the 1970s; then, with publication of two J. Wiley & Sons development and investment ‘how to’ textbooks, and emergence of several real estate investment trusts (‘REIT’s) during the 1990s, enjoyed a decade long panache as ‘manufactured home communities’ (‘MHCommunities’). However, given manufactured housing’s ‘chattel finance bubble busting’, at the turn of the Millennium, along with the surprising realization six different types of housing are now routinely sited in this unique income – producing property class, ‘landlease communities’ (‘LLCommunities’) became, and continues to be, the moniker of choice among most investors, lenders, journalists, and trade advocacy bodies. There’s also widespread recognition, that since year 2000, the on – site marketing, sale and property owner – financing of new and resale homes has become commonplace, suggesting a future terminology refinement might be in the works, i.e. maybe ‘lendlease communities’, whereby property owners routinely ‘lend’ homebuyers capital with which to acquire new and resale homes on – site, then ‘lease’ them the homesite on which their new or resale home is installed. The short definition? ‘LLCommunities’, formerly ‘MHCommunities’, will likely continue to be known as ‘LLCommunities’, but with a chattel finance nuance.

Last week’s blog posting, presaging the previous paragraph, was titled ‘Ongoing Transition from TPL (third party lenders) to Owner Financing’. As its’ author/blogger, the heavier – than – usual reader response was not only welcome, but contained a healthy mix of Good News & Bad News. First the really good (confirming) stuff:

II.

“Top notch post! This is certainly one of the most remarkable blogs I’ve seen….” CM

“Great article again George. Thanx.” NB

“George, I greatly enjoy your blog, especially the one on Owner Financing. (Starting in) 2007, I advertised a few seller – finance MHs in my park. 30 deals later, I can say it is great! I have had one ‘walk away’ repo. I structure the deals so they make sense for the buyer, thereby solidifying my park occupancy. I believe my (LLCommunity) would be in a serious state of decline had I failed to act when I did.” SS

“There is no doubt, much more to the story than you’re telling, and I’m glad you don’t mention names. Just better that way. You continue fighting, on our behalf, and I want you to know (there’s) at least one park owner in ________ who appreciates all you’re doing to keep us from doing down the tubes.” DR

“Good that the LLCommunities have it (presumably, ‘chattel finance matters’) in hand. It is a huge challenge, that can only build. I see the quagmire, George.” NC (Go ahead, look it up. Quagmire well posits our capital sourcing challenges and regulatory climate ahead.)

“Just got thru reading your blog on TPLs to Property Owner Financing. Thank You. There is really nothing I can add to this that you’re not aware of already, but I’ll vent if nothing else…” DB

III.

Now for the ‘me bad’ stuff. I was roundly and rightly criticized for an error I let slip into my description of MHI’s summer meeting, off – agenda financing session, during mid – July in Washington, DC. I’ve since corrected the error: said meeting was requested by FHA not FHFA. Plus, my computer omitted half the opening paragraph of what was originally posted; that’s now been restored.

Having now perused informal, unofficial notes penned by uninvited MHI dues – paying members present at said meeting, I believe I was right in my earlier observation that, even to date, there’ve been no written proceedings describing what was shared by and among (What at one point was described as…) ‘the survivors are in the room’. Like my peers, I applaud FHA for being engaged on our (finance) issues; and even understand why some ‘insiders’ loathe sharing information and control with peers, during what could be nigh end days for our industry. And for that very reason, this work session should have been announced and open to any MHI direct dues – paying member who might have contributed knowledge and ideas, on one hand; or been in a position to share information, even rally industry wide support, on the other.

IV.

So, where do we go from here? For starters, you’re already doing as I’ve requested time and again; you’re communicating reactions, thoughts, ideas, and frustrations relative to HUD Code manufactured housing and the landlease community real estate asset class. Don’t stop! Respond via this website or the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. That’s how I obtained all the commentary written into this blog posting!

V.

Next. If you own/operate one or more LLCommunities in North America, plan to join your peers at the 19th annual International Networking Roundtable, 15 – 17 September 2010, in Phoenix, AZ. If you haven’t already received material on this generally ‘by invitation only’ event, let me know (317) 346-7156, and I’ll mail or email it to you! Registrations are now arriving daily, and our maximum participation will be 200. Product and service vendors with a history selling to LLCommunities are also welcome to attend. Same procedure.

Furthermore; did you read Dick Moore’s INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE # 73 online MHIndustry newsletter distributed Friday, 30 July? If not, phone ((901) 872-4446 to request a copy. This is one MHRetailer who ‘tells it like it is!’

Finally; received the following lightly – edited paragraphs from one of the few true, decades – seasoned sages in the MHIndustry:

• “Relative to the long – awaited Title I program. As you probably know, the final regs are out; and, while GNMA has lifted its’ moratorium, it’s also established (stringent financial guarantee) guidelines that effectively eliminate all but two (Really one, when you consider who owns the two firms) chattel lenders from participating in the program, virtually ending competition among said lenders!” So, does this mean Title I is, again, ‘dead in the water’ for now, where MHIndustry chattel lending is concerned? Chattel finance – challenged businessmen and women want to know….

• “And George, except for selling to Seniors, home financing is the key to success in our industry! As long as we market home products and LLCommunities to low and moderate income buyers, who’re mostly credit – challenged, we’re going to have difficulty obtaining viable home financing programs anywhere. Answer? While there’s no simple solution, greatly and widely ‘improving our image’ with the general public, will help to move us up the credit score chain to more credit worthy buyers, and access new financing options for home sales.”

What say you? Are these sage’s remarks ‘right on’ or do you feel they ‘miss the mark’? If I get enough and soon response, either or both topics might be worthy fodder for next week’s blog posting. Will be listening for you on the MHIndustry HOTLINE!

*****

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156